The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour has prompted for an investigation to be launched into reports that a number of expatriate workers are being subjected to modern versions of “enslavement”.
Labour Minister Dr Kedrick Pickering made the announcement in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, August 14.
Criminal charges could be laid on local employers found to be involved in the reported inhumane treatment of their expat workers, Dr Pickering said.
“We’ve asked for them to be investigated … We will do whatever we can to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to justice because its something that should never be happening in any country, much less in our beloved British Virgin Islands,” Dr Pickering told the House of Assembly.
The expatriates in question are reportedly workers who local contractors brought into the territory to assist in recovery efforts.
Information coming out of the parliament this week is that the workers are forced to work seven days per week without being properly compensated. They are reportedly housed under poor living conditions and are not being paid the wages that were originally agreed, it is reported.
“There are some troubling complaints — some of them in writing — from individuals who have basically been enslaved. It’s that simple and plain,” said Dr Pickering who condemned the practice.
“It is absolutely wrong. In this day and age, for any man to enslave another man — not only is it abhorrable and abominable, but it’s disgusting to even think about it, and to know that it’s happening in our country is shameful and disgraceful,” he said.
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